Report: United Kingdom withdraws from Durban III

British prime minister says it would be "wrong" to engage in events that in the past have shown displays of anti-Semitism.

September 14, 2011 22:00
2 minute read.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron

UK Prime Minister David Cameron 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)


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British Prime Minister David Cameron decided that the UK will not take part in the UN-sponsored Durban III anti-racism conference on September 22 because he did not want the UK to engage in an event with anti-Semitic association, The Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.

“No one should be in any doubt: This government is 100 percent committed to tackling racism both at home and abroad,” Cameron said.

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“But those aims cannot be met by accepting this invitation.”

Cameron added that in the past, the World Conference on Racism saw “open displays” of “deplorable anti- Semitism,” and said it would be “wrong” to engage in such events.

“That’s why the UK will play no part in this conference.”

Nine of the UN’s 193 member nations have joined Israel in pulling out of Durban III, including Germany, the US, Canada, Italy, Austria, Australia, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

About 40 delegates dropped out of the 2009 conference, following what was widely described as a hate speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Anti-Israel groups were widely considered to have hijacked the proceedings at the first two conferences, and international-human rights issues appeared to become secondary to Israel bashing.

Critics of the conference have noted that conference organizers have generally overlooked human-rights abuses reported in Arab countries.

This year, Canada was the first country to announce that it would not attend the 2011 event, which is marking the 10th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Racism.

Anne Bayefsky, a leading human rights scholar and the main organizer for a counter-Durban III conference on September 22, in New York City, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, that Britain has done the right thing by pulling out of Durban III.  Durban III was an ill-conceived venture designed to trap world leaders, already attending the opening days of the UN General Assembly, into signing on to a mission irrevocably tainted with anti-Semitism. It marks a very important push-back by democratic states - long overdue - against UN platforms that undermine rights and freedoms for all. “

She added, “Britain’s pullout will be a serious blow to the UN and Durban III’s standing, and immediately raises the stakes for France in particular.  The French can expect a serious hit to their moral stature on the world stage should they decide to stay without Britain or Germany.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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